Power plays slammed in WA
A row is forming over the West Australian Government-owned electricity company Synergy’s $100,000 bill for ‘corporate hospitality’ at sporting events.
The WA Opposition says the government agency should not be able to purchase of corporate boxes for sporting, after the extent of Synergy’s spending was revealed in answers to questions in State Parliament.
The electricity generator and retailer spent $100,724 on wining-and-dining packages for football, cricket and rugby in the 2013-14 financial year, and $88,830 in the 2014-15 financial year.
Over $65,000 of that annual cost goes to a West Coast Eagles “corporate season suite”.
Energy Minister Mike Nahan says “Synergy should be able to compete with the private sector”.
Labor leader Mark McGowan said should be competitive by reducing its costs.
“At a time where electricity prices have gone up dramatically, consumers should not be paying for this,” he said.
“Buying a corporate box by a government agency is unreasonable full stop ... it is not the sort of thing a government agency should be doing.
He pledged to end the hiring of corporate boxes for any government agencies.
Dr Nahan said Synergy had to spend money on corporate hospitality packages.
“As a retailer in a competitive business, I believe Synergy should be able to compete with the private sector, and corporate hospitality is part of that,” he said.
“It is for executives within Synergy to determine how they manage that corporate hospitality.
“I am of the view that Synergy's expenditure on corporate hospitality is responsible, focused on customer engagement and supported by reasonable business rationale.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition has also attacked electricity network operator Western Power for spending over half a million dollars on surveys.
Western Power has spent $583,750 since September 2014 on surveys to find out about its own reputation and culture, as well as an examination of its residential customers.
Labor claims the company spent an additional $2.7 million for consulting firm McKinsey and Company for just four weeks of work to review its operations and identify savings.
McGowan said he does not “blame people for doing surveys, but I find the amount of money involved enormous”.
“I don't know why they cannot do these things more affordably, especially when electricity prices are going through the roof.”
But Dr Nahan said the big bill was because Western Power brought in the best.
“The firms engaged by Western Power to undertake research services are experts in their relevant fields and utilise industry leading research methodologies,” he said.